Monday, April 20, 2015

Google Perks and Lutheran Schools

As I mentioned in an earlier post on new learning, I have discovered the podcasts from the Commonwealth Club of California and I've found them to be very interesting. The first podcast I listened to was an interview with Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google.

There were many insights that Bock shared about the company. One of the most interesting to me was the rationale behind Google's famous employee perks -- perks such as food, recreation, transportation, etc., all provided at no additional cost to the workers. According to Bock, here are the reasons why the company provides these services:
  1. To build community
  2. To foster innovation
  3. Efficiency -- to make life easy for people
As I reflected on these thoughts, I thought of Lutheran schools, which typically do not provide many perks for their employees. Clearly Google is strategic about their perks, using them to build the organizational culture that they want.

What can Lutheran schools learn from Google? Here are a few thoughts:
  1. How is community built within your school? Are teachers separated in their own classrooms at the start of the school day with little opportunity for interaction with their colleagues or other teaching professions? Is lunch duty or recess duty the only time for them to make connections? Or are there way, no matter how small, that time may be dedicated to teacher sharing and interaction? One of the key reasons for Google's meal perks is so that employees are encouraged to sit and share. In fact, their cafeteria furniture is made up of longer table to support this interaction. How can your Lutheran school support these types of conversations?
  2. The architecture of Google's campus is such that it is difficult to hide away in one's working space. Solitude is available, but one must intentionally access the solitude on their campus. This is because Google values the interactions of its workers, both for innovation as well as personal fulfillment. How does your school foster the creation of new ideas? What opportunities exist for meaningful conversations among teachers? How can the design of spaces (teacher work room, classrooms, etc.) foster innovation?
  3. Teaching is a rewarding, but very challenging, calling. What does your school do to make it as easy as possible for teachers to worry less on the details of life and focus on education? What happens if the child of a teacher is sick? Is time off readily given? Is some sort of babysitting care identified? What if a car needs to go into the shop? Is a loaner available from the school? What if some sort of service is needed at the teacher's home? Can someone be identified to be at the house for the plumber, cable technician, or furnace repairman, so that the teacher does not have to juggle this detail?
While there are many details that do not fit in a comparison between Google and Lutheran schools, the more I learn about Google the more I believe we all can learn from the technology giant and apply the learning in many ways to education.

1 comment:

  1. Bill Busacker9:12 AM

    Interesting that solitude must be sought. Not easy to hide away alone. I like that concept. Too many in education silo themselves in classrooms or offices.